Proud of East Texas: New London School - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proud of East Texas: New London School


By: Joan Hallmark

On March 18th, 1937, a spark ignited a vast pool of natural gas beneath the New London School, resulting in an explosion that killed more than 300 people, mostly children.

Annie Blackwell Smith, Helen Davis Morris and Otis Bryan were just kids seventy-five years ago, when their lives were changed forever. Annie and Helen were in history class when the explosion occurred a 3:17.

Otis was in art class and didn't talk about that day for more than fifty years. They were among the survivors.

An investigation into the blast found that the New London School District, like most area businesses and residents, had tapped into pipelines carrying unrefined gas from nearby oilfields.  

Much like a time bomb, the odorless gas accumulated beneath the building and in one mighty blast destroyed the school and the lives within it.  

The New London school explosion is still considered the worst school disaster in history.


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